Preparing for the adventure
I've created this blog so that my many interested family and friends can easily read about my Peace Corps experiences while I am away. I'm hoping it will work well for those of us that are computer challenged and the rest of you that are more computer savvy.
To start, on August 23, 2004 I received my invitation to serve in Honduras beginning on January 17, 2005 until April, 2007!
The Peace Corps notifies you when you invitation has been mailed, but not where you are going. So I waited and waited and checked my mailbox countless times. It finally came while I was at work, and I had my younger brother Ian read my destination over the phone. The Peace Corps gives you something like 10 days to consider the assignment before you have to accept - I eagerly accepted!
My family and I were very excited to learn I was going to Honduras! It seems to be a relatively safe Latin American country with a rich culture. The people are beautiful and apparently very kind, and the scenery is beautiful. They have great scuba diving off the bay islands as well - guess how I'll be using my 24 days of leave per year! In addition, it won't be as expensive to visit me so I expect lots of visitors!
I'm not going to go into great detail as far as the application process that got me the invitation, especially as it can vary significantly from person to person. However, with me, it took me no more than 5 months from the time I sent in my application (March) until I received my invitation in the mail (August) for Honduras. When I had my interview at UVA with the PC recruiter, a very easy interview, I specifically requested Latin America and said I was prepared to wait longer if necessary. My friends had told me that Latin America was a more competitive location to get invited to, but at least for me, it was really easy. I feel like if you really want a certain area and you are prepared to wait longer for it, go for it. Sometimes people accept areas that weren't their first choice, and they have a great time and are glad they were flexible - but that's each person's choice. I really wanted to become fluent in Spanish though. I was flexible about my assignment (the job I'll be doing in Honduras) so that might have helped with placement there. But within days of the interview, my recruiter called and said there was a group going to Latin America in January of 2005 doing health outreach to infants, mothers, and youth, and would I be interested? I said, heck yeah! I still didn't know the country of course, and I had to wait several months for that. In the mean time, I worked on dental, medical, and legal clearance, all of which went smoothly for me.
Now that I know where I am going, I have been slighly distracted since I absolutely must google every Honduras related thought that runs through my head. Common Google searches include "Honduras what to pack", "Honduras pictures", "Honduras safety tips", "Honduras scuba diving", "Honduras peace corps stories".
I finally stumbled onto a Yahoo group for Peace Corps volunteers in Honduras, which is composed of not only returned and current volunteers, but their family as well. This resource has been very valuable so far in packing advice and general knowledge. To visit this site, go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/peacecorpshondurasconnection/. When I'm actually in Honduras, you will likely be able to post a message on this site and someone will respond to tell you when they last saw me and where I am - pretty cool! Plus, it's always fun to read about other people's experiences.
Well, you can expect much more to come. I still have several months to prepare for my departure and I am looking forward to spending the next few months with my family and Chris. It will be hard every time I realize I may not see a person for several years, but I am also very excited to start my adventure in Honduras!
As many of you may be unfamiliar with Peace Corps, you may want to visit www.peacecorps.gov to learn more about it - they have great resources for family and friends including videos of current volunteers and descriptions of volunteer jobs and locations. I think it will be one of the best challenges of my life!